Nine Things You Should Know about the Disability Act

Amidst the parliamentary logjam, this is one crucial thing that, we’re hoping, could be agreed upon

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Little has been achieved; though a lot of words have been exchanged in the Parliament’s Winter Session this year. There is hope, however, that one crucial thing might just be agreed upon this session: the much-needed amendments to the Disability Act. Based on a press release by Press Information Bureau, Bayside Journal has put together a list of nine things we think you should know about this Act and the amendments suggested:

1. The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act was first enforced in 1995, and it is the primary act for the empowerment and dignity of persons with disabilities.

2. It was suggested that this act be replaced by the 2014 Bill, which was broader in scope, more inclusive, and in agreement with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) of which India had become a signatory. It is this Bill to which changes have been proposed.

3. The government is to bring 119 amendments to the Bill, whose legislation has been pending in the Rajya Sabha since February 2014, reports The Indian Express.

4. Of the changes proposed include increasing the number of recognised disabilities to 21. Some of the additions include disabilities caused due to acid attacks, Parkinson’s Disease, Dwarfism, and blood-related conditions such as Thalassemia, Hemophilia, and Sickle Cell disease.

5. The Bill ensures making public buildings – both government and private – accessible within a limited time frame.

6. The Bill also proposes 4% reservation in government jobs.

7. Penalties have been ensured for offences committed against persons with disabilities, with special courts designated to handle cases involving violation of their rights.

8. There is also a provision for guardianship by District Council, which enables a joint decision-making process between the guardian and the person with disability.

9. Children between 6 and 18 years with benchmark disabilities will have the right to free education.